The 1939 movie comedy, It Happened One Night, changed the average man’s sexual, self-image forever. As MGM Studio’s hunk of the decade, Clark Gable, nonchalantly removed his shirt—and his undershirt—during the movie’s then risqué bedroom scene, audiences gasped. Prior to Gable, no civilized man (forget Tarzan) had dared to be photographed bare-chested. History had been made, and there was no turning back.
Men everywhere attempted to get in shape so they, too, could go casually shirtless. They quickly discovered that all males are not blessed with amazing physiques. In fact 30 – 60% of the entire male population have, or will, develop breast tissue.
As early as 1679, Flemish doctors were studying what would someday be known as Gynecomastia, the literal Greek translation of “woman breasts.” Gynecomastia is a disease in which men develop true breast tissue greater than 0.5 cm around the nipple, causing one breast or both to enlarge and look somewhat a feminine. There are many causes for gynecomastia, and all forms are treatable.
Hormonal Imbalance –Thirty to sixty percent of young boys and men of all ages develop a hormonal imbalance in one or both breasts in their lifetime. Some cases are more pronounced than others. If you notice unevenness in your breasts, a lump, pain, or a misshapen nipple, see your physician. Your doctor will run blood and other tests to rule out the slim chance of cancer, and to get an accurate reading of your hormone levels. Almost every case of gynecomastia corrects itself within six months to two years, as the body’s hormone levels adjust themselves. Unless absolutely essential, physicians prefer not to use hormone treatment.
Steroid or Drug Abuse – Weight lifters, body builders or illegal drug users all increase their odds of developing gynecomastia. If you use anabolic steroids and androgens, you’re a candidate for the disease. Alcohol and marijuana users also increase their odds of developing gynecomastia. How much indulgence of each drug it takes to development the disease depends on each individual’s biology.
Obesity – Obesity is the most common and controllable cause for gynecomastia. Today’s populace of American children, ages two through nineteen, are 17% overweight. Thirty percent of American adults are overweight, and another 30% are obese. If we continue living unhealthy lifestyles, many more men will develop the disease. Overweight men, who now have excess fatty tissue and no disease, already appear to have female breasts.
Medications Side Affects– People who are on prescription medications may suffer the side effects of gynecomastia. Drugs that cause side effects are cancer medications containing estrogen, some antidepressants, and a few blood pressure drugs. Ask your physician about side effects of any prescription. Often drugs can be switched or cut back to avoid side effects.
The XXY Factor –Klinefelter Syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality disorder in young boys. It occurs in one in five hundred male births, and is often difficult to diagnose. Symptoms may be minor or profound and include boys being taller than their parents, having round-shaped bodies, under-sized testes, sparse facial and genital hair, and suffer from learning disabilities. These youngsters are born infertile, but can father children, nowadays, through the use of intracytoplasmic sperm injections.
The Surgical Solution When someone is in excess physical or emotional distress, surgery is often performed. Smartlipo is a new and less invasive surgery procedure developed to remove unwanted fat without leaving scars. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and involves few side effects, little pain or downtime. A small tube removes unwanted fat with the use of a high-powered laser. Board certified plastic surgeons across the country offer this highly developed liposuction procedure. Prices vary. Smartlipo replaces earlier surgeries that involved excessive pain, long downtime and scarring. What was once an extensive surgery with mixed results is now a fast, painless process that is readily available.
Gynecomastia is no longer the hidden disease that complicated and frustrated many men’s lives. Today we understand its cause and have control of its final outcome, making all men’s lives better in the process.